Wines for your palate
As wine tasting is so subjective and different for each individual, we’ve put together some guidelines to help you determine the right wine for your palate.
In order to fully appreciate wine, you have to know how to taste it. Chloe Dickson of PalateTalk.com explains that there are four steps to the wine tasting process.
Before you do anything else, take a moment to really look at the wine in the glass. The colour and opacity of wine tells you a lot about its age, grape variety, acidity, sugar and alcohol content.
- Tilt the glass slightly; older wines tend to look more yellow and brown, while red wines can become translucent with age.
- Gently swirl the wine around the glass and check for legs or tears. The longer they are, the higher the sugar and alcohol content.
- Raise the glass towards your nose and inhale – what can you smell? Wine aromas are categorised as ‘primary’, ‘secondary’ and ‘tertiary’.
- Primary aromas come from the climate and grape and tend to be fruity.
- Secondary aromas can be ‘bready’ and come from the fermentation process.
- Tertiary aromas are found in wine which has been aged in oak or the bottle. These scents can be nutty or vanilla.
It’s finally time to taste your wine. Pay attention to the sweetness, acidity, alcohol and body.
- You’ll be able to judge the sweetness of the wine from the first sip. Wines range in sweetness from 0g/l RS (grams per litre residual sugar) to 220g/l RS. Dry wines are those with less than 10g/l RS – the equivalent of ½ teaspoon of sugar per glass.
- High acidity wines taste tarter and lighter on your palate – it can also indicate that the grapes were picked early or that the wine comes from a cooler climate. Low acidity wines are smoother and taste sweeter.
- A sweet, intense wine is likely to contain a higher level of alcohol. Wines can range from 5% ABV – 16% ABV (alcohol by volume).
- A wine’s body is determined by all of the above, as well as how long the taste lasts in your mouth. Full-bodied wines taste more intense initially while light-bodied wines tend to build into a rich flavour on your palate.
The final step of the wine tasting process comes down to personal preference. It’s time to decide whether or not you enjoyed the wine. You may need to try a few different wines to find your favourite – the more the merrier, we say!
So now you know which meals you can pair your wine with, it’s time to find out which flavours you like.
Red wines fall into two categories: black fruits and red fruits.
Black fruits and berries
Blackberry, blackcurrant, black plum, blueberry, black cherry, black raspberry, prune, fig and black raisins can all be tasted in the bolder reds. Examples include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Tempranillo and Syrah.
Red fruits and berries
Cranberry, pomegranate, red currant, strawberry, cherry, raspberry, red plum, dragon fruit and goji berry are all flavours associated with lighter reds. These include: Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sangiovese, Merlot and Nebbiolo.
White wines tend to be either tree-fruity or citrus-fruity.
Apricot, peach, nectarine, apple and pear are all tree fruits commonly found in Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer.
If you prefer a tarter taste then a citrus-fruit wine will be more to your liking. Red grapefruit, orange, pink grapefruit, lemon, lime and pineapple are flavours associated with Sémillon, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio.
Unusual wine flavours
Wine is not always fruity however – you’d be surprised at the sheer variety of flavours which can be found in wine. Here are a few of the more bizarre flavours and where they can be found.
If you’re partial to this sugary snack, you’ll love the taste of aged vintage Champagne or oak aged Chardonnay.
Who doesn’t like chocolate? This pleasant flavour can be found in bold red wines from warm climates such as Australia, Argentina, California and Spain.
We’re not sure we’ve ever tasted banana in a wine before but this aroma is brought on by the winemaking process used in Beaujolais wines called ‘carbonic maceration’.
This spicy chilli flavour is generally associated with wines from cooler climates, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and occasionally Cabernet Franc.
The buttery popcorn taste in some white wines is the result of oak ageing.
How can you tell if it’s a good wine?
While it’s natural to have different preferences when it comes to taste, there are some defining characteristics of a good wine. According to our experts, a good wine is:
- Well-balanced (acidity, alcohol, fruit)
- Complex in flavour
- Food friendly